Cohen’s $600,000 Deal with AT&T Brought to Light
Michael Cohen is no stranger to controversy. The latest revelations show that President Trump’s attorney was contacted by the telecom giant, AT&T, just three days after Trump assumed office. The records show that the company was seeking assistance on a myriad of issues that were pending before the federal government. To be specific, one of the issues the company wanted to be handled was its forthcoming merger with Time Werner.
Interestingly, during his presidential campaign, Trump was very vocal in his opposition to the merger. At the penultimate moment, his administration opposed AT&T’s efforts. The case is currently pending following the Justice Department’s move to block the deal back in November.
Notably, Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, was the one who broke the news first to major media stations. The attorney representing the adult-film star brought to light newsworthy information about the nature of Cohen’s dealings by revealing his association with the telecom company Trump had initially and vehemently opposed.
At present, it remains unclear what information Cohen, a former taxicab operator, and now longtime real estate attorney, could have shared with AT&T with regards to complex telecom matters.
During the period of his association with AT&T, when he would collect $50,000 a month checks, Cohen had close working ties with other companies to advice on a number of issues. One of the topics he is said to have given counsel includes the Affordable Care Act, real estate deals and a number of accounting practices.
Conspicuously, Essential Consultants was the same company that Cohen used back in October 2016 to direct some funds to Daniels in order to buy her silence after she threatened to disclose her alleged affair with Trump.
The revelations go a long way in tainting a man who leveraged his close relationship ties with the president to earn a good buck. All this despite the president giving assurances many a time about how once he would assume office, he would do all he could to “drain the swamp”.
Following special counsel Robert S. Mueller’s investigations, two companies, AT&T and Novartis, the pharmaceutical company, both with affiliations to Cohen, shared that they had provided necessary information for Mueller and his team. At this moment, Cohen is under investigation by prosecutors in New York for a number of issues including campaign finance contributions and bank fraud.
Person of Interest
Amazingly, disclosure forms reveal that the $600,000 payments that Cohen received from AT&T amounted to about 3.5% of the $16.8 million that the company spent in lobbying engagements in 2017. The papers show that Cohen’s contract with AT&T stipulated that he played the role of providing long-term planning initiatives, leading the acquisition of Time Warner, and the immediate issue of implementing corporate tax reform
All the aforementioned were his key tasks. The others include advising AT&T on how to handle issues it had before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and addressing a number of political and communications matters.
Notably, AT&T failed to challenge the document’s authenticity. At the same time, Cohen’s lawyer, one Stephen Ryan, also plead the fifth on the matter. When quizzed about the issue, Cohen outrightly failed to respond.
What the documents revealed is the fact that Cohen, an unregistered lobbyist, would not spend any of this time working for the company on lobbying issues. As per his assignment, he would only take on the advisory mantles of the company, without ever contacting federal officials.
By law, individuals who spend 20% of their net time working for clients on executive and legislative branch issues need to be registered as lobbyists. According to Larry Noble, former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission and an expert in lobbying laws, this is especially the case if the said individuals also happened to have contact with at least 2 government officials sharing a relation to the client.
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